Our Turn: Lawmakers are Raiding Parks (Again)

PNI 0712 hike wenima.jpg[Source: Arizona Republic,  February 29, 2016] –Wildlife’s political life seems to have come full circle since 1990 when by a 2-to-1 margin Arizona’s voters gave us the Heritage Fund, $20 million from the Lottery to be spent solely for Arizona’s parks and wildlife.

Half of the money was given in public trust to the Arizona State Parks Board, to support and manage Arizona’s park system. This money was taken by the Legislature in 2010 for budget balancing.

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The other half of this money was given by the people to the Arizona Game and Fish Commission, again in public trust, to administer on behalf of Arizona’s wildlife. Twenty-four percent of this money was dedicated exclusively for acquisition of habitat for the benefit and conservation of sensitive wildlife species. Over the past 25 years, Game and Fish commissioners battled hard to protect those funds, especially the Acquisition Fund.

All past commissions believed that these funds — they amount to about $2.4 million a year — needed to be protected at all cost. After all, this fund was one of the crown jewels of the Heritage Voter Initiative. In the state parks half, there was $1.8 million available for such wonders as Kartchner Caverns, the San Rafael Ranch and the Sonoita Creek Natural Area. Such purchases are no longer possible following the legislative sweep.

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The acquisitions of Sipes White Mountain Ranch, White Water Draw, Wenima and other similar properties resulted from careful spending of Game and Fish’s funds. Now, sadly, those funds are in serious jeopardy.

In this legislative session, the commission has proposed Senate Bill 1361, which would deplete the acquisition fund by up to 50 percent to pay for operations and maintenance of the 16 properties it has acquired. Yes, operations and maintenance are important when you buy property, but it takes a good, full public process — not a legislative sweep — to help solve that problem.

In 2014, the commission made a good start by appointing the Heritage Working Group to study and make recommendations for these solutions. This group studied for months. It made recommendations, lengthy ones, which are now either being misrepresented or ignored altogether.

Among other things, the group recommended that 5 percent of the acquisition fund could be moved (with more public input) to the greater part of the Heritage Fund where operations and maintenance are in statute already. That’s 5 percent, not 50 percent, and with more public process.

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After all, this is not the commission’s money — it is the people’s money. The voters created this fund and directed the commission, as public trustees, to spend it in a specific manner.

Is this concept important anymore? It is now up to the people to speak up and stop this latest – the 40th, we think – raid of the Heritage Fund. If you value the Heritage Fund and its importance to Arizona’s wildlife, please make your voices heard as the bill, now in the Senate, moves through the Legislature.

Bill McLean, Beth Woodin, and Bob Hernbrode are former members of the Arizona Game and Fish Commission. Woodin is the president of the Board of the Arizona Heritage Alliance, and Hernbrode is vice president of the Tucson Audubon Board and a biologist. (Photo: Mare Czinar/Special for The Republic)

Arizona State Parks Director takes Historic and Archaeological Preservation Series on the road

[Source: Verde Independent] – Arizona State Parks Director Bryan Martyn is coordinating public meetings and will travel across the state in a new program called “The Director’s Historic and Archaeological Preservation Series,” which will focus on Arizona‘s historic and cultural treasures.

The Arizona State Parks department not only manages all 27 State Parks, but also the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), which has various roles in 90 communities across the State. Martyn will engage local leaders, residents, museum leaders and other preservation enthusiasts in discussions about Arizona‘s important historic and archaeological resources.

SHPO manages the nationally acclaimed Site Steward program that protects archaeological resources throughout Arizona. The program has more than 1,000 volunteers to oversee millions of acres of state/federal and tribal land. (Watch video: Harrison Ford www.AZStateparks.com/SHPO/index.html). The SHPO also reviews properties for the National Register of Historic Places, reviews actions that might affect historic properties, provides technical assistance to historic property owners and Certified Local Governments, and oversees historic matching grants.

“I am planning meetings about our important historic and archaeological resources that need to be preserved and promoted for tourism, such as the historic State Parks. But I also am interested in supporting the “Main Street Program” which is now managed by the State Historic Preservation Office. I hope to start a dialogue about how we can work together to protect resources and re-adapt or re-use historic resources and focus on how these resources provide economic benefits for the communities. My goal is to bring attention to critical historic structures and how they could be protected through adaptive re-use.”

A schedule of each town visited will be posted on AZStateParks.com (Director’s Series) and the public is welcome to contact him about issues in their communities as they relate to historic and cultural resources and talk with him while he is there. Follow the series on Twitter and Facebook at AZStateParks. If you would like to contact the director, email pio@azstateparks.gov. (Below are preliminary sites to visit with a final schedule posted on the website weekly.)

For more information about the Director’s Historic and Archaeological Preservation Series or for information about all of the Arizona State Parks visit AZStateParks.com or call (602) 542-4174.

Tonto Forest Archaeologist Chosen to Receive AAS Award

[Source: Sonoran News.com] – J. Scott Wood, Tonto National Forest Archaeologist and Heritage Manager was nominated by two chapters of the Arizona Archaeological Society (AAS) and selected to receive their prestigious Professional Archaeologist Award for 2011.  Ron Robinson, outgoing President of the AAS will present Scott with this award at the AAS State Meeting, held October 14-16, in Benson, Arizona at the Cochise Community College-Benson.  The official presentation will be Saturday, October 15th, following a member dinner and silent auction.

An MA archaeology graduate from ASU, Scott has worked at Pueblo Grande Museum and at the ASU Office of Cultural Resource Management. His career with the Forest Service began 35 years ago and he is widely considered an expert on the Tonto National Forest, particularly because of his knowledge in ceramics.  He has authored and co-authored dozens of publications and articles and his book, Checklist of Pottery Types for the Tonto National Forest is referenced all over the world.

Scott is currently an AAS member and professional consultant for both the Desert Foothills Chapter (DFC) in Cave Creek and the Rim Country Chapter (RCC) located in Payson.  Scott has taught AAS workshops, held field schools, lectured at seven state-wide chapters and led hikes to areas of member interest.  He has involved AAS members in various professional projects including a recent partnership with ASU students and Professor David Abbott, where, under Scott’s direction, DFC members gathered Hohokam pottery on Perry Mesa and then sorted the ceramics for further study.  DFC President Paddi Mozilo says, “Our success as a chapter is due to Scott’s ongoing and enthusiastic support and advice; he has given all our members a deeper appreciation and involvement in the field of archaeology.”

In addition to his extensive AAS volunteer schedule and his duties as a Tonto Forest Archaeologist, Scott has many state-wide site interests.   He has trained the vast majority of site stewards in the Site Steward Program, developed by the Arizona State Parks Department.   He is involved in the protection and conservation of many rock art and archaeological sites around the state, recently collaborating with the City of Payson to develop the Goat Ruin Site as a public attraction.   RCC President Evelyn Christian is grateful for the chance to have its members be a part of the survey, stabilization and protection of this site.   She believes that, “without Scott, this site would not have gotten the attention and protection that it merits.  He is leading Payson’s efforts to prepare this site for future public education and enjoyment.”

AAS State President Ron Robinson is pleased to be able to present Scott with this award.  He notes that Scott attends all of the AAS State Meetings and goes out of his way to make himself available to members for questions and discussion.  “Scott’s knowledge and expertise have made him an invaluable contributor to the growth and education of all AAS members.  We hope that this award will demonstrate how much we appreciate him and all he does on our behalf.”

The AAS is an independent and non-profit organization with twelve chapters and over 600 professional and avocational members.  The goals of the AAS are to foster public awareness, interest, research and conservation of Arizona’s rich archaeological heritage, with special emphasis on protecting these scarce resources.  AAS members enjoy lectures, classes, hikes and certification training in different facets of archaeology.  Please check the AAS website at www.aarchsoc.org for more information and to find a chapter near you.

Homolovi State Park Specialty Pueblo Tours

Join Ranger Chad at Homolovi State Park for a tour of Homolovi IV, one of the park’s archaeological sites not usually open to the public. The pueblo consisted of approximately 150 masonry rooms built in a step-wise fashion down the sides of a small butte on the west side of the Little Colorado River. It was occupied for a short time in the late 1200s, but the site also includes petroglyphs from a much earlier time. The Homolovi Research Program excavated this site for the first time in 1989.

Homolovi IV tours will take place this fall on the following dates: September 24, October 1, October 2 (in conjunction with Flagstaff Festival of Science), October 8, October 15, October 22 and October 29, weather permitting. The tours will begin at the Homolovi State Park Visitor Center at 10:00AM and be finished by 12:30PM and are limited to 15 participants. Please call the park to reserve your spot on the tour of your choice (928) 289-4106.

Normal fees apply for special events/day use: $7 per vehicle with up to 4 adults, and $3 for each additional adult. Camping fees are $18 if you do not use the electricity and $25 if you need the electricity. For more information call Homolovi at (928) 289-4106, located five miles northeast of Winslow, Arizona off of I-40 (exit 257 on State Road 87). The park campground is convenient to I-40 and accommodates large rigs, as well as tent camping. For more information about the 30 State Parks, statewide hiking opportunities, off-highway vehicle trails, and other outdoor recreational and cultural opportunities in Arizona, call (602) 542-4174 (outside of the Phoenix metro area call toll-free (800) 285-3703) or visit AZStateParks.com. Visit AZStateParks on Facebook and Twitter or you can load the “Oh, Ranger! ParkFinder” mobile app for your smartphone. The link is: http://www.ohranger.com/app/parkfinder.